Various Writing Resources

Memos, E-Mails, Thank-You Letters, Letters of Transmittal, Cover Letters, Resumes


Much of our paper communication is by memo; it is a form that expedites direct, relatively concise communication about a single topic.

Effective memos are brief, usually from one paragraph to two pages, but occasionally longer if the purpose warrants. Anticipate the information your audience wants and needs and then be as direct and concise as possible. The body of the memo is concise and direct so that the reader can get to your point immediately. Whether its purpose is to recommend, report progress, inform or request something, the memo is likely to include:

If your memo must be lengthy, consider using subheadings to divide the paper visually. Although memos do not require signatures, you may wish to authenticate your memo by adding your initials in pen next to your typed name.

Electronic Mail

E-mail is often used instead of paper correspondence, especially for in-house communication. It's quick, inexpensive, and informal. But dont be deceived: e-mail, like print, can be permanent and is a reflection on you as a communicator. Create a document that invites the reader's attention

Use appropriate formality for the situation. Joking or sarcastic remarks that flourish among friends on e-mail may be misconstrued by professional colleagues who anticipate only direct communication.

Thank-You Letter

For the few minutes they take to write, thank-you letters pay huge dividends. They confirm that you appreciated another's work, gift, or thoughtfulness. More importantly, they are an opportunity to continue communication with a person you value.

Keep in mind that the letter need not be long:

Letter of Transmittal

A letter of transmittal introduces a document such as a report, typically with less formality than the report itself. It provides the opportunity to remind the reader of the report title and highlights of interest. The letter also is the place to present sensitive or confidential information related to, but not part of, the report. Although it accompanies a report, it is separate from the document; therefore, place it on top of the report instead of binding it with it. A letter of transmittal typically includes the following:

A number of acceptable business letter forms exist. This letter illustrates a standard block form.

Street Address
City, State ZIP
Month Date, Year

Name of recipient
Street Address
City, State ZIP

Dear Dr. Name:

Why was the report written?
When was it assigned?
What is its title and additional identifying information?

What is the scope of the report?
Its purpose? Limitations?
What are your conclusions? Recommendations?
(The letter of transmittal is the appropriate place to discuss matters of concern that need to be raised but not circulated with the report.)

What action or input is requested? Sincerely,
[4 carriage returns here] Your Signature
Your typed name
Your title
Encl. [List any enclosures]

Cover Letter

A cover letter establishes the significance of an accompanying document. We will focus on its use with a resume. When used this way, the cover letter explains why you are interested in the position and what you can do for it, refers the reader to the resume, asks for an interview, and conveys your appreciation. It should be addressed to a specific person, ideally the person who will make the hiring decision. Cover or application letters accompanying resumes should be concise and 100 percent accurate.

The following are some guidelines when creating a cover letter:


A resume provides a summary of qualifications for a position. A resume is likely to be a first contact (with the cover letter) with a prospective employer who has perhaps as little as 15 seconds to review this document. Resumes typically include the following in one to two pages:

Additional information that might be included:

Many first-time resumes are reverse chronological. The functional resume emphasizes areas of competence by being organized around a list of accomplishments; employers and academic experience are identified in subordinate sections. The targeted resume is organized to focus attention on a particular position. It shows qualifications for a specific job.

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